This happens. An astronomer said that he found, as astronomers do, something that looked unusual and that turned out to be an unusual form of a usual thing. But before he figured that out, a reporter happened to ask him what’s new, and the astronomer said he’d found this unusual thing, couldn’t figure it out, kind of mysterious. And the reporter wrote an article for the New York Times (8/17/99), “Rarely Bested Astronomers Are Stumped by a Tiny Light,” and then the Weekly World News picked it up: “New York Times Story Sends Shock Waves Through Governments: Mystery Light in Northern Sky Baffles Scientists,” and began the story, ” . . . political and religious leaders around the world are terrified that the bizarre phenomenon is another sign from God that that the End Times are near.”
Luckily the scientist and his career both survived.